For nearly two decades, downtown Peoria has come alive with the artistic talents of school children during April and May. In its 19th year, the Arts In Education Spring Celebration will be bigger and incorporate more local students than ever before, according to project director Sue Kingery.

The Spring Celebration is coordinated through Dr. Gerald M. Brookhart, Regional Superintendent of Schools, Peoria County Regional Office of Education and showcases 138 schools from six counties: Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, Fulton, and, for the first time, Mason.

From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each weekday, April 19 to May 28, approximately 17,000 students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 will exhibit, perform, and demonstrate their talents and works in the fine and applied arts, Kingery said. "Aside from the wonderful performances each day during the event, the visual arts are also well represented. The depth of talent possessed by area students really shines through in the art displays and demonstrations that take place during the Spring Celebration."

She said many schools bring displays of diverse visual arts, including photography, drawing, sculpture, painting, and woodworking. "Industrial arts are highlighted as well, including C.A.D.D. projects, architectural models, and automotive drawings. Youth Farm, for example, always brings wonderful woodworking pieces such as chairs, tables, chests, and lamps. Students from area high schools also demonstrate drawing and painting on the plaza, as well as clay throwing and basketweaving demonstrations."

Kingery said many area middle schools and high schools, in particular, bring fantastic fine art displays. "Dunlap and Richwoods always bring a great deal of art in all media and many demonstrations as well. Manual High School takes over the Monument with wonderful photography displays and students sitting at tables actually working on pieces. Woodruff and Peoria high schools also highlight the many talents of their art students."

Some schools elect to bring only visual arts, particularly schools that don’t offer any other fine art programming, Kingery said. "Kiefer School, Greeley Alternative School, and District 150 at Children’s Home-Madison are just a few examples of schools that bring only visual arts. The works of special needs students are also spotlighted by the displays brought by Robert A. Jamieson School, and preschoolers’ works are shown by Little Friends Learning Center."

New to the Celebration this year is the Career and Technical Department of Pekin High School. "They’ll bring demonstrations and exhibits on a separate day from Pekin’s performances and fine arts department. They’ll have displays and demonstrations of welding, electronics, creative fashions, horticulture, and health occupations," she said.

Students from outlying schools always bring unusual projects and displays as well, she said. "Illini Bluffs, Deer Creek-Mackinaw, and Delavan high schoolers, just to name a few, create some very unique pieces. Teachers and students from the different high schools love to see the various displays of other schools as well."

From drama to painting to music to industrial arts, the Peoria County Courthouse Plaza is where to find the exhibitions of our many talented local students this spring. AA!